Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:
~ 2 Peter 1:10
Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.
~ Colossians 1:29
Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; But ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof: I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh; When your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you. Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me:
~ Proverbs 1:24-28
And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?
~ Luke 6:46
Striving For The Strait Gate, An Application, by John Bunyan. The following contains an excerpt from the text.
Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.
~ Luke 13:24
Use and Application of the Whole.
I come now to make some brief use and application of the whole: and
(Use first.) –
My first word shall be to the open profane. Poor sinner, thou readest here that but a few will be saved; that many that expect heaven will go without heaven. What sayest thou to this, poor sinner? Let me say it over again. There are but few to be saved, but very few. Let me add, but few professors – but few eminent professors. What sayest thou now, sinner? If judgment begins at the house of God, what will the end of them be that obey not the gospel of God? This is Peter’s question. Canst thou answer it, sinner? Yea, I say again, if judgment must begin at them, will it not make thee think, What shall become of me? And I add, when thou shalt see the stars of heaven to tumble down to hell, canst thou think that such a muck-heap of sin as thou art shall be lifted up to heaven? Peter asks thee another question, to wit, “If the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?” (1 Peter 4:18) Canst thou answer this question, sinner? Stand among the righteous thou mayest not: “The ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.” (Psa 1:5) Stand among the wicked thou then wilt not dare to do. Where wilt thou appear, sinner? To stand among the hypocrites will avail thee nothing. The hypocrite “shall not come before him,” that is, with acceptance, but shall perish. (Job 13:16) Because it concerns thee much, let me over with it again! When thou shalt see less sinners than thou art, bound up by angels in bundles, to burn them, where wilt thou appear, sinner? Thou mayest wish thyself another man, but that will not help thee, sinner. Thou mayest wish, Would i had been converted in time; but that will not help thee either. And if, like the wife of Jeroboam, thou shouldst feign thyself to be another woman, the Prophet, the Lord Jesus, would soon find thee out! What wilt thou do, poor sinner? Heavy tidings, heavy tidings, will attend thee, except thou repent, poor sinner! (1 Kings 14:2,5,6, Luke 13:3,5) O the dreadful state of a poor sinner, of an open profane sinner! Everybody that hath but common sense knows that this man is in the broad way to death, yet he laughs at his own damnation.
Shall I come to particulars with thee?
1. Poor unclean sinner, the “harlot’s house is the way to hell, going down to the chambers of death.” (Prov 2:18, 5:5, 7:27)
2. Poor swearing and thievish sinner, God hath prepared the curse, that “every one that stealeth shall be cut off as on this side according to it; and every one that sweareth shall be cut off as on that side, according to it.” (Zech 5:3)
3. Poor drunken sinner, what shall I say to thee? “Woe to the drunkards of Ephraim,” “woe unto them that are mighty to drink wine, and men of – strong drink; they shall not inherit the kingdom of heaven.” (Isa 28:1, 5:22, 1 Cor 6:9,10)
4. Poor covetous worldly man, God’s Word says, that “the covetous the Lord abhorreth”; that the “covetous man is an idolater”; and that the covetous “shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Psa 10:3, Eph 5:5, John 2:15, 1 Cor 6:9,10)
5. And thou liar, what wilt thou do? “All liars shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone.” (Rev 21:8,27)
I shall not enlarge, poor sinner, let no man deceive thee; “for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.” (Eph 5:6) I will therefore give thee a short call, and so leave thee.
Sinner, awake: yea, I say unto thee, awake! Sin lieth at thy door, and God’s axe lieth at thy root, and hell-fire is right underneath thee. (Gen 4:7) I say again, Awake! “Therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.” (Matt 3:10)
Poor sinner, awake; eternity is coming, and His Son, they are both coming to judge the world; awake, art yet asleep, poor sinner? let me set the trumpet to thine ear once again! The heavens will be shortly on a burning flame; the earth, and the works thereof, shall be burned up, and then wicked men shall go into perdition; dost thou hear this, sinner? (2 Peter 3) Hark again, the sweet morsels of sin will then be fled and gone, and the bitter burning fruits of them only left. What sayest thou now, sinner? Canst thou drink hell-fire? Will the wrath of God be a pleasant dish to thy taste? This must be thine every day’s meat and drink in hell, sinner!
I will yet propound to thee God’s ponderous question, and then for this time leave thee: “Can thine heart endure, or can thine hands be strong, in the days that I shall deal with thee?” saith the Lord. (Eze 22:14) What sayest thou? Wilt thou answer this question now, or wilt thou take time to do it? or wilt thou be desperate, and venture all? And let me put this text in thine ear to keep it open; and so the Lord have mercy upon thee: “Upon the wicked shall the Lord rain snares, fire the Lord rain snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest; this shall be the portion of their cup.”
Secondly. My second word is to them that are upon the potter’s wheel; concerning whom, we know not, as yet, whether their convictions and awakenings will end in conversion, or no; several things I shall say to you, both to further your convictions, and to caution you from staying any where below, or short of saying grace.
1. Remember that few shall be saved: and if God should count thee worthy to be one of that few, what a mercy would that be?
2. Be thankful therefore for convictions; conversion begins at conviction, though all conviction doth not end in conversion. It is a great mercy to be convinced that we are sinners, and that we need a Savior; count it therefore a mercy, and that thy convictions may end in conversion; Do thou, –
1. Take heed of stilling of them: It it the way of poor sinners to look upon convictions as things that are hurtfnl; and therefore they use to shun the awakening ministry, and to check a convincing conscience. Such poor sinners are much like to the wanton boy that stands at the maid’s elbow, to blow out her candle as fast as she lights it at the fire. Convinced sinner, God lighteth thy candle, and thou puttest it out; God lights it again, and thou puttest it out, (” Yea, how oft is the candle of the wicked put out??) At last God resolveth he will light thy candle no more and then like Egyptians, you dwell all your days in darkness, and never see light more, but by the light of hell-fire; wherefore give glory to God, and if he awakens thy conscience quench not thy convictions: “ do it (saith the prophet) before he cause darkness, and before your feet stumble upon the dark mountains, and he turn your convictions into the shadow of death, and make them gross darkness.”
1. Be willing to see the worst of the condition; it is better to see it here than in hell; for thou must see thy misery here or there.
2. Beware of little sins, for they will make way for great ones, and they again will make way for bigger, upon which God’s wrath will follow; and then may thy latter end be worse than thy beginning.
3. Take heed of bad company, and evil communication, for that will corrupt thy good manners. God saith, evil company will turn thee away from following him, and will tempt thee to serve other Gods, devils; “ So the anger of the Lord will be kindled against thee, and destroy the suddenly.”
4. Beware of such a thought as bids thee delay repentance; for that is damnable.
5. Beware of taking example by some poor carnal professor, whose religion lies in the tip of his tongue. Beware, I say, of the man whose head swims with notions, but his life is among the unclean. “He that walketh with wise men shall be wise; but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.”
6. Give thyself much to the word, and prayer and good conference.
7. Labor to see the sin that cleaveth to the best of thy performances, and know that all is nothing is thou art not found in Jesus Christ.
8. Keep in remembrance, that God’s eye is upon thy heart, and upon all thy ways: “Can any hide himself in secret places, that I should not see him, saith the Lord? do not I fill heaven and earth, saith the Lord?”
9. Be often meditating upon death and judgment.
10. Be often thinking what a dreadful end sinners that have neglected Christ, will make at that day of death and judgment.
11. Put thyself often, in thy thoughts, before Christ’s judgment-seat, in thy sins, and consider with thyself, Were I now before my judge, how should I look, how should I shake and tremble?
12. Be often thinking of them that are now in hell past all mercy: I say, be often thinking of them, thus:
1. They were once in the world, as I now am.
2. They once took delight in sin as I have done.
3. They once neglected repentance, as Satan would have me do.
4. But now they are gone, now they are in hell, now the pit hath shut her mouth upon them.
Thou mayest also double thy thoughts of the damned, thus:
1. If these poor creatures were in the world again, would they sin as they did before? would they neglect salvation as they did before?
2. If they had sermons, as I have; if they had the Bible, as I have; if they bad good company, as I have; yea, if they had a day of grace, as I have; would they neglect it as they did before? Sinner, couldst thou soberly think of these things, they might help (God blessing them) to awaken thee, and to keep thee awake to repentance, to the repentance that is to salvation, never to be repented of.